Meaningful baseball returns to Citizens Bank Park after an up-and-down first week on the road for the Phillies. Rain delayed the first pitch by about 25 hours, but a previously scheduled off day Tuesday allowed the Phils and Brewers to pick up their three-game series without any issues.
Kyle Kendrick is on the mound for the second straight Phillies home opener against former Phillie Kyle Lohse. Here are five things you need to know about today's game (4:05 p.m., NBC10).
1. Which KK shows up?
Kendrick spun seven solid innings last Wednesday in the game eventually blown by Jonathan Papelbon. In that outing, Kendrick allowed just five hits and a run over seven innings against a tough Texas lineup.
Since 2011, Kendrick has defined "boom-bust." In 71 starts over that span, he's allowed one earned run or none 22 times and four-plus earned runs 24 times.
Kendrick got off to a strong start in 2013 before fading down the stretch. After allowing five runs to the Royals in the Phillies' home opener last year, Kendrick went 6-2 with a 2.76 ERA over his next 11 starts. From that point on, however, his ERA was 5.95 in his final 18 starts and his opponents hit .316.
The reinvented Kendrick has had success vs. lefties since 2011, holding them to a .240/.312/.394 batting line, aided by a cutter that breaks in to a lefty and a changeup that disappears low and away.
But that won't help him Tuesday against a right-handed heavy Brewers lineup. Carlos Gomez, Jean Segura, Ryan Braun, Aramis Ramirez and Jonathan Lucroy all bat from the right side. Righties since 2011 have hit .290 off Kendrick.
2. Boos for Braun?
Braun is coming off an embarrassing 2013 season during which he was suspended half the year for his connection to the Biogenesis scandal. He was cheered in his first series in Milwaukee but booed heavily this past weekend in Boston and should expect the same reception -- if not worse -- in Philadelphia.
That is, if he plays (see story).
(Update: Braun is starting in right field and batting third.)
Braun is dealing with a serious thumb injury that is preventing him from hitting for power or gripping the bat properly. It's the second straight year Braun has dealt with this thumb issue, and to date no surgical option or padding has been presented to him that makes long-term sense.
The thumb injury sapped Braun of his power last season, when he slugged a career low .498 in 61 games with just nine home runs. Through five games this year, he's 3 for 20 with no extra-base hits.
Braun has blasted the Phils in his career, hitting .386/.430/.690 with 14 homers, 30 RBIs and 32 runs scored in 43 games. It's his best stat line against any NL team.
3. Not the same Lohse
The Lohse who will take the hill Tuesday is far from the same pitcher the Phillies used 13 times in 2007.
To that point in his career, Lohse was 63-74 with a 4.82 ERA, 1.43 WHIP and walk rate of 2.8 batters per nine innings.
But from 2008-14, Lohse is 66-46 with a 3.80 ERA, 1.26 WHIP and just 2.1 walks per nine innings. With the Cardinals and Brewers, Lohse has matured into a right-hander with pinpoint command.
Ryan Howard has always hit Lohse well -- 10 for 22 (.455) with two homers, a double and eight RBIs. But Jimmy Rollins and Chase Utley have combined for just 10 hits in 64 at-bats (.156 BA), with two extra-base hits. Utley (flu) is not in Tuesday's lineup.
Lohse in his career is 4-4 against the Phillies with a 2.98 ERA in 13 starts. At Citizens Bank Park, his ERA is 3.26 in 11 starts.
Lohse features four pitches: a sinker, slider, changeup and curveball. Nothing is harder than 89-90 mph. He loves to start lefties with the curve -- he's done it 32 percent of the time since 2013 -- and tends to stay with the sinker when he's ahead in the count.
4. Protecting the house
The Phillies were 106-65 at home in 2010 and 2011, a .642 winning percentage.
In 2012 and 2013, though, they were just 83-79 at home, a .512 winning percentage. As they've struggled through injuries and decline, the home-field advantage at raucous Citizens Bank Park has disappeared.
Tuesday's game is the first chance for the Phils to recapture the magic in South Philly. They've lost their last two home openers by a combined score of 19-6. But they're facing a Brewers team against whom they have a better home record than any non-NL East team other than the Rockies since 2000.
5. Gomez and Segura
Without Braun last season, Milwaukee's offense relied on two emerging players in Gomez (CF) and Segura (SS).
On top of being exceptional defenders with elite speed, the duo combined in the first half of 2013 to hit .311 with 25 homers, 31 doubles, 17 triples, 81 RBIs, 105 runs and 48 steals.
In the second half, however, Gomez and Segura combined to hit just .252 with 11 homers, 16 doubles, three triples, 41 RBIs, 49 runs and 36 steals.
Both players will go up there and hack. Neither takes pitches early in counts, and Gomez in particular will swing at everything when he feels like it. It's worked out for him, as he's turned into an extra-base hit machine the last two seasons, but it also causes manager Ron Roenicke to shake his head on occasion. Gomez is the less-publicized but just as frustrating version of Yasiel Puig.
Segura has dealt with a shoulder issue since the beginning of spring training and, really, hasn't been particularly useful since pitchers began throwing him inside in the second half of 2013. Segura has very impressive opposite-field power, especially for a 5-foot-9 guy, and can and will hurt the Phillies if their pitchers aren't prepared and offer him pitches on the outside corner or even a bit off the plate.
Both players have struggled against Kendrick, going 2 for 15 with a pair of singles.